I showed up at Charlottetown Airport this morning bright and early at 6:00 a.m. ready for my 6:45 a.m. flight. Usually at this hour there are one or two people in line, never more than 5 or 6. Today there were about 25. I immediately knew something was up.
It turns out that our flight to Montreal was to happen on a plane that was to have arrived last night, but didn’t. So there was no plane. And the flight was cancelled.
Not that Air Canada bothered to tell us this: there was an informal information gravevine running up and down the line; with each new person to the desk we’d here a little more — next flight at noon, no compensation, lots of problems with connections.
I had the misfortune of being directly behind two groups travelling to southeast Asia. The lack of an early flight meant that their entire itinerary had to be rearranged. Needless to say, troopers though they may be, the Air Canada counter staff in Charlottetown aren’t experts at planning multi-connection trans-Pacific itineraries. It took awhile.
I finally got to the head of the line around 7:30 a.m. — just over an hour of standing — and was resassigned to a Noon flight, putting me in Boston at 3:00 p.m., four hours late and after the meetings downtown that were specially planned to accommodate my travel plans. I suppose I should feel lucky: the woman travelling to Vietnam was going to be 24 hours late arriving there.
All the while the flight information screens — still reading Standard Time — were announcing that the flight for Montreal was “Boarding.” Except there was no plane. And no flight.
As with most of my “Air Canada is evil incarnate” posts my chief peeve with Air Canada’s behaviour is their attitude more than whether or not they happen to have the right planes in the right place. Air Canada is as much in the information business as it is in the people moving business, but it doesn’t seem to realize that.
How about an email last night when you knew the plane wasn’t going to be there? How about an announcement over the PA in the terminal to soothe the jangled nerves of those of us in line? How about an apology when we finally got to the counter? How about flight informations screens that give information. About flights.
The impression one is left with from Air Canada today is that they’ll little concept that their customers use their planes to go real places and do real things. Things with deadlines. And hurt feelings. Things that Matter. They seem to think that if they get you to your destination, eventually, they’ve done their bit.
As soon as I knew I was going to miss my Boston meetings I immediately sent a heads-up email to my colleagues at Yankee, and then followed up with a couple of phone calls once the hour was more reasonable. Not a perfect solution, but at least I cared enough to keep them in the loop. It’s a shame my airline couldn’t extend the same courtesy.
Oh yah, the tomato juice. I’m not sure if this is a uniquely Canadian thing, but all Air Canada flights and lounges server Mott’a Clamato juice, which is tomato juice mixed with clam broth. I’ve never seen this on another airline — Catherine asked once on JAL in Tokyo and they looked at her real strange. The only time I drink Mott’s Clamato juice is when I fly Air Canada. Normally the idea would frighten and disgust my, but in the total perspective vortex that is flying, it seems quite right. The Extra Spicy is especially nice.